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This is the third book in Philippa Gregory's series dealing with Tudor England.
In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. One woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth's ambitious leap to the throne will pull her husband back to the very center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be. Amy had hoped that the merciless ambitions of the Dudley family had died on Tower Green when Robert's father was beheaded and his sons shamed; but the peal of bells she hears is his summons once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen. Can Amy's steadfast faith in him, her constant love, and the home she wants to make for them in the heart of the English countryside compete with the allure of the new queen?
Elizabeth's excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country, riven by enmity, where treason is normal and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisor William Cecil warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the irresistible, ambitious Robert Dudley.
Robert revels in the opportunities of the new reign. The son of an aristocratic family brought up in palaces as the equal of his royal playmates, Robert knows he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth's side. Elizabeth cannot resist his courtship, and as the young couple slowly falls in love, Robert starts to think the impossible: can he set aside his wife and marry the young queen?
Philippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover answers the question about an unsolved crime that has fascinated detectives and historians for centuries. Philippa Gregory uses documents and evidence from the Tudor era and, with almost magical insight into the desires of Robert Dudley and his lovers, paints a picture of a country on the brink of greatness, a young woman grasping at her power, a young man whose ambition is greater than his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.
It's 1558, and Elizabeth, daughter to King Henry VIII and 2nd wife Anne Boleyn, has just been crowned Queen of England. After the brief but strict reign of her Catholic half-sister Mary, what is England to expect from the Protestant Princess who wants to abolish the Catholic ways? In a country full of turmoil, Sir Robert Dudley, longtime friend of Elizabeth since their days growing up at court together, seeks to better his position and maneuver himself into a position of power at Elizabeth's side.
But what of his wife: the forgotten Amy Dudley who doesn't come to court but instead remains back home in the country, forever waiting for her husband to put aside his ambitions and return home to her, for the love of a good woman. Unfortunately, the only love Dudley's seeking is the Queen's. But to what lengths will he go to achieve his means?
This was another great read in the Tudor series! Though the work itself is considered fiction, the author bases the stories themselves on fact. Of course, we cannot truly know everything that went through the minds of Elizabeth, Robert, William Cecil, and the others as not as much was recorded in the way of diaries and actual day-to-day events. But despite that, Ms. Gregory is able to take the facts from numerous sources and build a very real feeling story that draws you right in and makes you feel as if you were right there in the Renaissance period, experiencing everything firsthand along with the rest of the court. It's as if she's reconstructed history right before your very eyes!
I was never much for History in school; it was always one of my worst subjects and I could never garner enough interest to retain the facts that were constantly drilled into my head. However, the way these stories are composed by Ms. Gregory, I enjoy them so much that I actually find myself easily retaining all the information I so easily forgot before, even long after I finished the book. My high school history professor would be so proud! LOL
This is now reserved for my Valentine's Day partner. *shhhh*